WorldSkills Australia is set to introduce Health and Social Care categories to the competition next year so Australia can compete on the world stage in 2024.

This is the first time Health & Social Care and VETiS Health Care Assistant will be included in the Australian competition – formally recognising the sector’s status and importance to Australia’s workforce fabric.

This month the Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) is helping to send an Australian delegate to the WorldSkills competition in France to observe the international competition and assess how our inaugural national competition, to be held next August, should be fine-tuned.

Human Services Skills Organisation CEO Jodi Schmidt said she was delighted healthcare was now included in the esteemed competition.

“A skilled health and human services workforce is critical to Australia’s future,” she said.

“The HSSO is proud to be a sponsor of the new category to celebrate, support and showcase the depth of skills required for this line of work.

“The inclusion of healthcare and social care in the competition accurately reflects both the importance of skilled workers in the sector and its vital place in the Australian economy”.

The Gordon TAFE’s Business Manager of Nursing and Aged Care, Michelle Milroy, has been selected to go to France (Oct 19 – 22) to be both an international judge and observer of the competition.

Ms Milroy said the competition would be run in much the same way assessments are done within Registered Training Organisations for health qualifications. The competitor is given a patient scenario and is assessed and given points against a set of criteria as to how they respond and what actions are taken.

Ms Milroy said at a competition level, students in both skills perform critical tasks of a healthcare worker. They are assessed on their capabilities, but also a range of other skills, such communication, problem-solving, empathy and creativity.

Ms Milroy said while health and social care had been included in the competition internationally for many years, it was exciting Australia would now join the ranks.

“I am really excited to be going to France to see for myself how the skill is contested at an international level”, she said. “How do our nurses stack up against others from around the world? Do they perform the same tasks? Do they perform it in the same way? These are the things I am excited to understand.

“This is also a fantastic opportunity to showcase to industry the talented nursing and healthcare workers we have in this country.

“It also provides a stellar pathway to recognise these talented professional as outstanding individuals. It enables them to explore their boundaries and expand their horizons on a national and, hopefully, international platform.”

Worldskills Australia CEO Trevor Schwenke said expanding the competition was an exciting evolution for the organisation.

Mr Schwenke said the Health & Social Care skill covered the essential skills of a Diploma nurse in a variety of different contexts and environments including: hospitals, the patient’s home, day care, as well as residential and nursing homes.

Similarly, the VETiS Health Care Assistant skill covers the essential skills of a health services assistant, which is someone who supports health care professionals. It can involve direct or indirect supervision by an Allied Health professional and can include following therapeutic interventions or programs designed for patient care.

“The pandemic has highlighted to us all how vital our healthcare workers are, and we believe by launching these new skills as part of the competition, we’ll help to foster excellence in this critical industry and help attract people to seek out these fulfilling careers.”